Resource detail

Title: Utility of solar applications for Common Service Centres (CSCs)
Source:The Energy and Resouces Institute
Date:April 2010

Challenges: Due to the rapid progress in rural electrification, sustainable energy for all is gathering enough momentum. Even the far flung rural households are connected to the grid. However, issues like shortage due to inadequate power supply and concerns about the quality of power supplied are critical. In this scenario, small-scale clean energy production (solar energy) that is fed by locally available resources and those that contribute to the rural economy offer huge potential in supplementing grid supplies.

Initiatives: Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme has been initiated for delivery of modern energy services to the rural communities. The CSC scheme is part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communications and IT, GOI. The massive scale (88995 CSCs as of April 2012) mandate of service delivery to citizens and wide coverage across rural India are its key supporting strengths. A pilot project was hence initiated during 2011 jointly by TERI (as part of its Lighting a Billion Lives) and C-DAC, Hyderabad (as part of its India Development Gateway initiative) in association with the Service Centre Agencies SREI, J&K Bank and NICT. The objective was to test and demonstrate the utility of solar applications for CSCs. The initiative was piloted in 15 select CSCs spread across 13 blocks of 8 districts in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The core issue that emerged through the scoping study was that insufficient reliable grid based power supply (available only for 5 - 14 hours /day) during the complete hours of their operation, affected service delivery. Alternate sources of power, e.g. generators,) increase cost of service delivery to the citizens. A solar application that generates power to supplement the power requirements of CSCs and also provides lighting opportunities to the communities served by them was considered feasible. The piloted model installed at the CSCs included Solar lanterns (30 Nos.), solar charging stations (SCS) (total wattage is 330/380 Wp) to charge solar lanterns to provide mobile charging facility (20 ports) and backup power to run a computer for upto 3 hours.

Outcome/Benefits: CSCs reach the unreachable with clean lighting solutions: The solar facility in 15 locations, during its nine months of operation, has reached out to about 23,000 households directly and many more indirectly. About 65% of the households include BPL families who would otherwise be deprived of clean energy options for lighting. The major users of the solar lanterns include landless labourers, brick kiln workers, roadside vendors, households (for domestic chores and children's studies), farmers (for field visits during late evenings), primary health centres, community functions and the like. The pilot study also provide following benefits to users including a) Solar power adds extra income to users - The users (close to 45%) use solar lanterns to run their existing small enterprises for extra hours during the evening. b) Opening up new avenues of business for CSCs - The CSCs are also used as multi-utility Solar Charging Centres. Eg. renting of solar lanterns and mobile charging. c) Green power, a boost to the CSCs - The additional solar power generated helped VLEs extend their daily business timings by 2-4 hours. As a result, their monthly business was enhanced. Feedback (if any): The rural community gained a lot by having access to the services for extended hours. Further to this, use of solar lanterns help women to cook and aid children to study in better lit environments at a relatively cheaper cost.

Commercially tested: Yes

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